1 Camera [FringeTIX]
No Exit Productions @ Holden Street Theatres – The Studio
4:00pm, Fri 19 Feb 2010
So here’s Holden Street for the first time this year – and not much has changed. Except pretty much all the staff. Kym and all the other regulars have gone, but the Girl With The Gorgeous Eyes is back – though her voice has changed somewhat. No matter!
I find it pretty ironic that I’m writing this the day after the Fringe bit in the ‘Tiser stated “there is nothing more annoying than latecomers at the theatre” – since a couple of peeps wearing the Orange Sash of the Media Baron (no names ;) sat down several minutes into the play, missing the announcement that, due to last-minute cast changes, there would be a prompter in use. And, in the middle third, the prompter was heavily used, the progress of the play becoming almost treacle-like. And one of the media people present spent a good amount of the play dozing – it’s not like I obsess about them or anything, they were just in my eye-line, nodding gently.
The name of production company gives it away – 1 Camera is an adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre‘s No Exit (the name comes from a typo in the production’s original name, 1n Camera – the “1” intended to put the show at the top of the list of Theatre productions in the Guide). Thus, we meet Garcin as The Valet introduces him to a room; they constantly refer to it as one would a hotel room, except for Garcin’s queries as to the location of the torture devices that he assumes should be there. Inez is led in next, and treats Garcin with utter disdain; then comes Estelle, the sashaying socialite, who immediately takes a liking to Garcin – and Inez a liking to her.
The room is actually purgatory: these three characters are stuck in hell together. They all expect to be tortured, but it’s only with the advancement of the play that they realise that they are each other’s torturers, leading to continual odd-man-out situations where one character is being picked apart for their sins by the other two.
And therein lies the problem with 1 Camera; after a while, it becomes very episodic, with a predictable rhythm of characters being verbally reamed in turn, followed by a changeup… and then it all begins again. Yes, it’s a great concept, and for the first third it’s really enjoyable – sure it’s bleak, but I love a bit of Grim in my theatre. But the seemingly interminable repetition of the piece just wore me down to the point where I was clock-watching, waiting for it to end.
And that’s never a good thing.
I know that, if you’re going to produce one of the classic plays, you’re going to get reamed if you stray too far, or not offer it the reverence that some think it deserves; but for my tastes, this ménage à trois of psychological entanglement could be culled mightily without losing any impact. And, despite Inez stumbling over her lines, it was a pretty polished production – just way too long for my liking.